How to run Product Discovery Workshops successfully?

Product Management
September 16, 2022
9 mins read
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All successful products start with a vision. A vision gives you an abstract idea of what you want to achieve. To shape your vision into reality, you need a focused plan to start with. 

This is where a product discovery workshop comes into the picture. It gives a solid foundation to define all goals and activities to reach your vision. In this blog, you will learn everything you need to know about discovery workshops.

Without wasting any time, let’s get directly to the point.

What is a product discovery workshop?

A product discovery workshop is the first step toward laying out the plan or blueprint of a digital project. It includes the goal, scope, overall expectations, and planning process of the product. A discovery workshop is an initial attempt to sort out and arrange ideas, clarify doubts and gather more information from the client.

A product discovery workshop typically involves mutual exploration of the scope and idea in order to streamline the product development process. All the basic elements of the project are defined in this phase such as budget, staff, specializations, logistics, timeline, success metrics, and more.

Product discovery workshop

Why is a discovery workshop important?

A product discovery workshop is important for a lot of reasons. Any important activity without a definite plan can falter in many ways. Let’s learn how a discovery workshop can benefit the product development process.

1. Minimized risk and errors

A well-defined discovery workshop will help you lay out all the important information related to product development. This will give you a  farsighted approach and help you minimize errors by considering all possible situations. A plan always helps in preparing yourself to face all types of errors and risks with possible solutions. 

2. Reduction in overall cost

As mentioned before, a discovery workshop will help you plan and be prepared to work with fewer possible errors. Fewer errors will mean less wastage of resources which can contribute to a reduction in overall cost. Also, a well-defined product discovery workshop will help you discard unnecessary activities to focus on the most vital ones. 

3. Accelerated production speed

When you have a plan at hand, you don’t have to stop and think of the next step, because everything is laid out in advance. This can contribute to an increased production speed. All the inputs from your team and clients have been already previously considered in the discovery workshop. This will eliminate the extra time you will otherwise spend on consulting the stakeholders at every stage of development.

4. Build team communication

A product discovery workshop brings all the important players on the table together, to discuss and plan the project. It encourages these players to give their opinions and expertise on the process. From the development team, and marketing team to the design team, all the parties will interact, discuss and exchange ideas. This will lead to enhanced communication between the teams which can contribute to relationship building.

5. Paving the activities of the roadmap

After the product discovery workshop, you will have an extensive plan including the timeline, goals, scope, budget, and responsibilities which are essential elements for building the product roadmap. This will help you to outline and build the roadmap by supplementing the essential ingredients. 

Activities of the roadmap

Product Discovery Workshop Planning: Step by Step Guide

The product discovery workshop is the initial and most important part of the product development process where all the stakeholders including your clients and team members interact. When you decide to conduct a discovery workshop, you should be aware of the planning process, and we are here to guide you through it.

Step 1: Reaching out to potential users

Reaching out to potential users and interviewing them will help you get an insight into product expectation and their pain points. This step will help dismiss assumptions and focus on facts to help you build a solid blueprint for the product development process.

Step 2: Setting up the goal

We now have the most crucial part of the workshop, to set up the goal. The goal of the workshop will determine the nature of the activities. What do you want to achieve at the end of the day? What are your client’s business goals? The clearer and more specific the goal is, the better it will help you to plan the activities.

Step 3: Determining the participants

You have interviewed the users, you have the goals ready, and now it is time to list the participants for the event. Ensure to invite at least one person from all the vital departments involved in the process of product development. There should be a balanced representation of ideas and perspectives coming in from all directions like web and design, development, sales, marketing, etc. This diversity of perspectives will help you gain a comprehensive understanding of the ideas.

Step 4: Venue and time of the workshop

How and where are you going to conduct the workshop? Is it convenient for everybody? Will all the important participants be available? Will it be remote or in-house? These are some things you have to consider while planning the time and venue of your workshop.

Before confirming the venue, date, and time on your own, reach out to all the important players to ask about their availability. If it is causing inconvenience to anyone, try rescheduling after communicating the same with everyone.

Step 5: Keep the equipment handy

Running a discovery workshop means there will be an exchange of a lot of ideas and opinions. So you will need a tool to present and note all the important points. These are some of the important essentials for a workshop-

  • Laptop and projector / Whiteboard space and markers
  • Pen and notebooks for all
  • Post-it notes
  • Flipcharts
  • Coffee and snacks

Step 6: Keep the  product discovery agenda ready

Planning an agenda will help you keep the workshop systematic and chaos-free. Since you have limited time, it will only be wise to plan it out so that you can make the most of the discovery workshop. Make sure to give breaks in between. People need refreshments to get through a workshop productively.

This is what your agenda can look like.

10.00 am: open

  • General Introduction
  • Attendee introduction 
  • Client introduction
  • Business goals and objectives
  • Goals of the workshop

12.00 pm- 12.15 pm: Coffee break

12:15 pm -1.30 pm

  • Client profile and journey mapping
  • Question and answer session

1.30pm - 2 pm : Lunch

2 pm - 3.30pm 

  • Value prioritization
  • Discussion 
  • Wrap up

Product Discovery Workshop Activities

After you learned how to prep for a discovery workshop, it is now time to know about the activities of the workshop.

1. Establish clear goals 

Establishing the goal is always the primary function of conducting any workshop or activity. There are multiple stakeholders involved in the product discovery process. Each one of them has a specific role and contribution to the final idea. Some of the goals can be-

  • To understand the experience and expectations of existing and potential customers.
  • To identify challenges and barriers of the journey.
  • To map out the resources and determine the budget for the project.
  • To identify and prioritize the biggest business opportunities.

2. Presenting key findings of research

Remember how we said it is important to interview and research potential users when you are prepping for the workshop? It is now time to present your experience and findings of your interaction with the prospects. As already said, this will help you focus on facts more than assumptions.

3. Mapping people and processes

It is now time to identify and map all the important players involved in the process. Each of the players has an important role in the product development process. This may include all employees, clients, customers, and prospects.

Identifying and mapping all the people will help you discover important actions and behavior the display related to your product. For each action, you should be able to answer these three things-

  • Questions users ask when they try to complete an action.
  • Experiences that make the users happy.
  • Pain points and frustrations of the users.

4. Focus on pain points and happy experiences

Now that you have a list of pain points and delightful experiences of users you can focus on leveraging the good part and brainstorm ways to address and minimize the pain points.

5. List of opportunities and threats

After going through all the activities, you will have a list of the biggest business opportunities and possible threats. This will help you to develop a focused list of activities to address the same.

Some of the expected outputs of a product discovery workshop are

  • Clearly defined goals and objectives.
  • Alignment of product vision inside the team.
  • Clearly defined target audiences, user personas, scenarios, and flows.
  • Outlining the user journey mapping.
  • Aligned priorities and understanding of business goals.

Who are the participants in the product discovery workshop?

There is no strict standard of how many participants should attend a discovery workshop. There will be representatives from the client’s side, your internal team, and all-important stakeholders. Some say 6-8 people is an ideal number of participants but it can vary depending upon the type and volume of the project. 

Let us have a look at 3 specific roles in the product discovery session-

1. Workshop lead

The leader of the discovery workshop is responsible for making sure everything goes according to the plan and is generally the moderator. They should ensure that all the participants get the chance to state their opinion, follow the progress and keep the workshop on track.

2. Production team

All the team members will be included in the production team. Their main responsibility is to probe questions and gather as much information as possible while giving their opinions.

3. Decision-makers

The decision-makers include all the participants from the client-side. They should be able to answer as many questions as possible and guide the production team by providing product-related information. They should also clearly communicate their expectations from the production team.

What is the duration of the discovery workshop?

The duration of the workshop depends on the scope and technicalities of the project. A product discovery project is generally customized according to the needs of the organization. If the project scope is already well defined and there are only little gaps to fill, it can get over in one day. But for some who are starting from scratch with skeleton ideas, it may take around 2-3 days to structure the activities. 

Summing up

As we go by the popular saying, “Well begun is half done”, product managers must definitely not skip a discovery workshop.

A product discovery workshop lays out the foundation for defining development activities and paves the way for the roadmap. All product development companies must dedicate time and resources to plan and execute a proper discovery workshop. 

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